I find that one of the toughest things about writing has nothing to do with the actual words and paper. It’s about making the time to write.
I would have all the best intentions and the desire to write, but actually getting to it was a challenge.
But here’s the thing. I woke up one day and realized that it’s never going to happen if I don’t at least try. So, I made a decision to make it a priority and to come up with a few realistic ways to get it done. (And with three young kids and a full-time job, it really feels like I have zero time to myself some days.)
Here’s what I’m finding works.
Make a Mini Goal
Decide each week (or each day or each month… whatever works for you), what you are going to commit to for that period of time—and lay it out in writing.
For example, I will say to myself “By the end of this week, I want to accomplish X” and I’ll write what X is down in my planner. When I do that, I find it’s much easier for me to get my brain around accomplishing it and actually getting it done.
If you want to write a novel, maybe it’s setting a weekly goal of writing just one page per week. That sounds achievable, doesn’t it? Or write just a paragraph a day.
Smaller goals are achievable. And when you’re reaching each smaller goal, you’re more likely to feel motivated to keep the momentum going. If I find I’m getting close to the end of the week and I’m not done what I want to do, I try really hard to find some time to get to it. The interesting thing is, I can almost always find a small amount of time to myself to do it.
Give Something Away or Give Something Up
We can’t do everything. I’ve tried. Which typically means that something that we do for enjoyment usually gets put to the side in favour of things that bring in income, or help our families, or are more important in our daily lives.
That’s exactly what was happening with me. I was writing and editing during the day at my job, then I would come home and take care of my kids and do the laundry and make lunches and read with the kids and spend time with my husband and All. The. Daily. Stuff. By the end of the day, I was wiped and just wanted to sit on the couch and watch some TV while scrolling through Facebook and Instagram on my phone.
It was great for a while, but then I realized that I wasn’t really enjoying the shows I was watching… and yet, I was doing it every night of the week. I decided that TV was something I could give up. (But just from Sunday to Thursday… I give myself weekends off because it’s all about balance, right?)
This is coming from a morning person, who NEVER thought there was any way I could be creative at night when I’m tired and just spent the day writing and editing, knowing I do my best work in the morning.
But—I discovered something really interesting. I LOVE sitting in my bed at night after the kids go to bed to write. I prop myself up with pillows and use my old pregnancy body pillow as my quasi-desk, and have the fan softly oscillating for some soothing white noise. Even if it’s just for a half an hour, the whole experience is very relaxing, and I really don’t miss TV.
I also used to do laundry multiple times a week (for a family of 5, there is a lot of laundry and I do it all.) Then I realized that I didn’t have to. I could save it for one day on the weekend. I was wasting valuable time during the week at night folding and putting it away. When I gave up laundry and left it to just one day, nobody noticed, and I had more time for writing. Again, even if it’s just a half an hour, that’s more time than I had before.
Find out what you can give up in your life and just test it out. If it doesn’t work, that’s okay, too. You can try something else. But you’ll never know what you can go without if you don’t try.
Block Out Time for a Retreat
This is something I haven’t tried yet, but I’m planning on doing soon. I love this idea because it doesn’t have to cost much, or anything at all, and it’s only a one-time thing, but you’ll likely be able to get a lot done.
Try getting away alone for a period of time—it could be a weekend, it could be just one day. But get some uninterrupted time to yourself. You could book an Airbnb and bring groceries with you, or you could get a hotel room, or you could even just ask someone who has an empty room (like a friend or family member) to borrow it for a day or two.
Imagine how focused you could be during that time and how much you could accomplish! It’s easy to think “Oh, I couldn’t… I have family to take care of,” or a billion other responsibilities. I know. I truly do. But I also think my husband, kids, my house and everything else in my life will be just fine if I disappear for a day or two. And I will feel SO good about what I can do during that time.
Whatever you end up doing, I think it comes down to being super protective about your time for your writing.
Break down your goals into smaller, more achievable tasks, give something up, create a space for yourself, like the little retreat I make in my bed or even a mini retreat, and you’ll find that making the time isn’t the impossible task it sometimes feels like it is.
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